NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Tip Your Waiters
Monday night was one of those strange NBA nights when some owners with great teams find themselves in an early hole, owners with 1-10 records find themselves off to an amazing start, and several NBA teams looked like they never should have gotten out of bed in the morning. Of course, the one constant was the duo of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who each put up another glorious fantasy line for his owners. Here’s what went down, team-by-relevant-team style.
Atlanta – The Hawks are one of those teams that never should have gotten out of bed on Monday morning, as a 20-point first half, a 5-point second quarter and a 58-point night turned out to be a fantasy disaster in a horrendous loss to the Bulls, who spent much of the night giggling on the bench. You know things were bad when rookie Mike Scott was the leading scorer. If you own Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Al Horford, or any other Hawk, throw this one out of your memory bank and get ready for them all to bounce back against the Nets on Wednesday. Well, except for Lou Williams, who has had his confidence crushed by Larry Drew. Don’t cut him yet, but get him on your bench if you can.
Boston – Rajon Rondo had his 26th career triple-double as the Celtics beat the Bobcats. Jared Sullinger let his new owners down with a terrible first half (foul trouble), but at least salvaged a line of eight points, five boards, a block and 4-of-4 shooting on the night. Kevin Garnett hit just 2-of-11 shots in his worst shooting night of the season, and Avery Bradley had a season-high 16 points, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Bradley looks like he might be coming on, but he’s going to have trouble staying consistent while competing with Jason Terry and Courtney Lee for minutes every night.
Charlotte – Not much to report here. Hakim Warrick somehow scored 16 points (with four rebounds), Ben Gordon kept his double-digits streak alive with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, and Kemba Walker also shot it poorly for Michael Jordan’s boys. Ramon Sessions had 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, as the Bobcats saw their record fall to 9-28.
Chicago – The Bulls spent much of their night on the bench, laughing at the Hawks, in what was likely the easiest win (97-58) of most of their careers. Carlos Boozer had the big line with 20 points and 13 boards for his seventh double-double in eight games, but this was all about garbage time for both sides. Kirk Hinrich took a ridiculous fall courtesy of a Devin Harris flagrant, and Joakim Noah tweaked his knee briefly, but both players powered through their maladies.
Cavaliers – Rookie Dion Waiters went nuts off the bench, draining 12-of-18 shots and three 3-pointers for a career-high 33 points in a loss to the Kings. He didn’t commit a turnover, and briefly made owners forget about his dismal 37 percent shooting on the season, although he is clicking right now at 49 percent over his last five. His explosion came at the expense of C.J. Miles, who bounced back for 17 points, but was very quiet in the second half when Miles took over. Tristan Thompson went off for 17 points and 15 boards, and his owners are probably hoping that they never see Anderson Varejao’s face again.
Dallas – I had Elton Brand in a lineup or two, and pulled him out of one just before lineup deadlines last night. I guess I should have stuck with him after he canned 10-of-13 shots for a season-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and a steal in a win over Minnesota. Brand really hasn’t been doing very much, but this could be your sign to start watching him closely in case this is the start of a hot streak. O.J. Mayo came through with 20 points, seven boards, nine dimes, two steals and three 3-pointers, and is rolling again, while Darren Collison just missed a double-double with 20 points and nine assists. Dirk Nowitzki had just 10 points in 33 minutes. Baby steps.
Detroit – Rodney Stuckey is iffy for Thursday in London due to the need for dental work after he took at hit back on Dec. 21. Plan accordingly, as it sounds like he might be out.
Golden State – Stephen Curry’s right knee injury on Sunday was a hyperextension, but he was able to play through it and posted a big line. This will be a “no news is good news” situation as the Warriors prepare to play the Heat on Wednesday, and my guess is Curry will be good to go.
Houston – Jeremy Lin sprained his left ankle at practice on Monday and is now a game-time decision for tonight against the Clippers. If he’s out, Toney Douglas would make for an excellent plug-and-play tonight, and possibly longer. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling Lin could miss a couple games, which is just a guess.
Indiana – Lance Stephenson has a nasty toenail problem right now, leaving him iffy for Tuesday. If he’s out, look for Gerald Green to get loose again, after going for 15 points on Sunday while Stephenson was dealing with the same injury.
Clippers – Chris Paul missed last night’s game with a contusion in his right kneecap and is dealing with some swelling after bumping knees with J.J. Redick on Saturday. Yes, he played through it that night, but so did Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao before being shut down for a couple months, and this is the same knee Paul has had problems with in the past. I’m not going to go all Debbie Downer on CP3 right here, as we simply don’t know how bad his injury is. He’s day-to-day, and while I seriously doubt he plays tonight against the Rockets, he could easily return for Thursday’s game against the Suns. But if you can still pick up Eric Bledsoe (14 points, 4 assists, 28 minutes), I would suggest doing so until we find out just how much (or how little) time Paul is going to miss. Bledsoe could have a big week, and there’s no reason for the Clips to rush CP3 back to action, especially after they dismantled the Rudy Gayless-Grizzlies last night 99-73. And while we’re at it, if Matt Barnes is still available in your league (16 points, 8 boards, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers), he shouldn’t be.
Memphis – Rudy Gay missed last night’s brutal loss to the Clippers to attend his grandmother’s funeral, and not because he’s been traded. Gay should be back for Wednesday against the Spurs, meaning his four-game week just became a three-gamer. Wayne Ellington had 11 points, six boards and three 3-pointers in his place, but is not worth owning as long as Gay plays for the Grizz. Mike Conley was 2-of-11, Marc Gasol was 4-of-13 and Zach Randolph was 5-of-16 shooting tonight. It’s too bad the Grizz didn’t play the Hawks, as that would have been an epic fail, and could have ended in a final score in the 50s for both teams had it happened.
Miami – The Heat had a hard time getting going last night and finally came to life once Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were benched down the stretch for some active bigs, but it was too little, too late, as they fell to the Jazz. LeBron James went off for 32 points on 13-of-19 shooting and another fat stat line, while Mr. Bosh had just one rebound in the loss. Mario Chalmers had 12 points and seven assists, and is worth a close look in all leagues after his 10 3-pointers on Saturday.
Minnesota – J.J. Barea torched the Mavs (his former team) for 21 points, five dimes and four 3-pointers in 26 minutes and should be back on fantasy radar after dealing with a back injury. He also had 15 points on Sunday. Nikola Pekovic stayed hot with 20 & 12, while Dante Cunningham (6-of-18, 12 points, 6 rebounds, 39 minutes) outplayed Derrick Williams (9 points, 4 boards, 26 minutes). Flip a coin on these guys, as they could alternate good nights in Kevin Love’s absence. Ricky Rubio continues to disappoint, but at least had six points, five boards and six assists last night. Just hang in there with him, as things can only get better.
New York – Iman Shumpert should debut in London on Thursday, while Amare Stoudemire is expected to continue to come off the bench for the Knicks. Chris Copeland makes for an interesting prospective add right now. And this “spy gate” column is worth reading, as owner James Dolan never ceases to amaze.
Oklahoma City – My hunch was wrong and Serge Ibaka sat out a second straight game with a chest injury. I’ve got him in several weekly lineups, and am just praying he plays on Wednesday against Denver. Thabo Sefolosha returned from a neck injury and had four points, while Kevin Durant (41 points), Russell Westbrook (36) and Kevin Martin (12) all played well in the win over the Suns. KD and RW combined to score 75.4 percent of OKC’s points last night, and the duo outscored the Grizzlies and Hawks by themselves.
Orlando – Glen Davis returned in a big way for the Magic, going for 13 points, four rebounds and two blocks in just 18 minutes. He hasn’t even had a real full-contact practice yet, so he’s going to be back to form very soon. Make sure he’s not available in your league. Jameer Nelson had another double-double and is simply on fire right now, while Nikola Vucevic stayed hot with his seventh straight double-double (13 & 13). Big Baby’s return will put a dent in Vuc’s roll, but not enough of one to be overly concerned. Arron Afflalo finally cooled off, hitting just 1-of-11 shots for two points, so think about making a buy-low offer on him this morning.
Philadelphia – Andrew Bynum is targeting a return around the All-Star break (mid-February), so it might be time to stash him if you’re desperate for a center. Just don’t expect any miracles, as I’m guessing he’s in pretty bad shape physically.
Phoenix – Jared Dudley was out with a right wrist injury again and Michael Beasley had his second straight nice game with 14 points and 11 boards. I’m not rushing out to pick him up, but we should all keep a close eye on him. Shannon Brown went off for 21 points in 43 minutes with Dudley out, while Marcin Gortat went for 19 points, 15 boards and a block in the loss. He’s back. Goran Dragic’s disappointing season continued with just 11 points and one assist, and the Suns are just a mess under Alvin Gentry. Hang in there with Dragic, as he can’t play worse than he did last night.
Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins managed to stay in the game despite picking up a technical and a flagrant foul, and came through with 26 points, 14 boards, six assists, two steals and three blocks. When his head is on straight, he’s a fantastic fantasy center. Tyreke Evans hit 6-of-6 shots for 18 points, four boards and two 3-pointers, and Marcus Thornton got hot with 20 points, two steals and three 3-pointers. Maybe he’s ready to bust loose, so it’s time to pick him up if he was dropped in your league. Isaiah Thomas disappointed owners after his big 34-point game on Saturday, hitting just 2-of-8 shots for six points and six assists in 31 minutes. Aaron Brooks was supposed to play through the flu, but didn’t see action. Hang in there with Thomas, despite the bad game. Thomas Robinson had his second nice game in a row with 12 points, seven boards and a block, while Jason Thompson’s struggles continued. JT had just six points and four boards on 2-of-9 shooting, and has been quiet lately, so keep an eye on the emerging Robinson.
San Antonio – Manu Ginobili will miss a couple weeks with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, and I’m thinking Stephen Jackson will have some nice games in his absence, while Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green should also see extra touches.
Utah – Al Jefferson had 23 & 11, and Paul Millsap had 17 & 9, which were wasted lines on many benches due to the two-game week for the Jazz. Marvin Williams returned from his knee injury and had five points, but Gordon Hayward stayed hot with 22 points and three 3-pointers on 8-of-13 shooting. Hayward appears to have gotten the upper hand and my guess is he’ll have a much better second half, with or without Williams healthy. Randy Foye had just nine points, but is still worth a close look with the Jazz hurting at point guard. My favorite tidbit from the Jazz game was this guy, dressed like Andre from The League, getting tossed from his courtside seat. Yep, those are leopard-print cuffs. I was also unaware that Rod Stewart was now an usher in Utah.
Washington – What a weird night. Emeka Okafor went nuts with 19 points, 11 boards and a block for his third straight double-double, A.J. Price had a season-high 18 points and six assists, Jan Vesely tied a season-high 10 points with seven boards, and Kevin Seraphin went off with 18 points, five boards and three blocks. Price is on a short leash as John Wall works his way back, so don’t rush out to grab him. Wall had 12 points and six assists in 20 minutes, while Bradley Beal stayed hot with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Nene was the big loser for Washington with two points on 1-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes. Ouch.
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